When I Married Halldór Laxness

by Agnes Walsh

Agnes Walsh

I watched the froth go down and the yellow liquid rise to meet it. I twisted the glass around and it tipped over and spilled on his arthritic knee. I looked to the side and didn’t apologize. His beautiful bony fingers flicked off the foam in separate particles as if it was incidental lint he had finally noticed.

The decision is yours now.

He rubbed the liquid into his pant leg. I sighed. Either decision I make will kill something.

And so, you want to hang in this ether land forever?


And if I pulled your hair?
And if I scalded your mouth?
And if I made a teepee of birch billets with you in the centre?

Look at me.

He went away.

Next night the phone rang.
I’ll meet you at Glacier and First Point. You must be exact.
I’ll be there for three evenings.

For three nights I wore myself ragged but couldn’t find where.

Friday evening the doorbell rang. He handed me two books by Aksel Sandemose. I put my fingers exactly where his warm fingerprints still lingered on the top book and closed the door. I read and waited.

(There was a tidal wave and a woman went from window to window with a candle in her hand as her house floated out the bay. They rescued her in St. Lawrence.)

When you are ready, if ever, light your own candle.

Two years later, my hand shook as I held the match. His hair had greyed around the temples and he crippled shyly.

Five years later, two babies look hauntingly like him. He is chopping wood in the backyard. He stops.

Look at me. I fooled you years ago. Glacier is in Iceland and I tore out all the pages where it was written in that book. Do you regret that we called the babies Abstract and Zero? Come feel Aunt Hilda and Didymus under my fingernails.

His gentle laugh ripped the night sky, and I got pregnant again.

Last updated September 05, 2017